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"All kids out of the pool for Adult Swim!"

Adult Swim (stylized as [adult swim] or [as]) is a programming block on Cartoon Network shown during the watershed hours (8:00 pm - 6:00 am Eastern/Pacific Time).note  The block is notable for its idiosyncratic commercial bumpers (bumps), its strange and cynical yet hilarious original programming, its habit of openly teasing and/or bashing those fans who complain about its near-weekly- and never advertised- schedule changes (especially when April Fools' Day is concerned), and being nearly the only place on American basic cable TV to run anime not aimed at children.

Founded in 2001 by Cartoon Network's Williams Street division (the same studio that organizes Toonami), the block was born from two things: the realization that a third of Cartoon Network's audience was teenagers and adults and the fact that the channel was constantly receiving cartoon pitches that would be perfect for that demographic. Just as Cartoon Network primarily featured cartoons for kids, Adult Swim focused on adult-oriented animation: namely black comedies and edgy, largely unedited anime. note  After the 2007 Boston Bomb Scare, Adult Swim began incorporating live-action programming; opinions vary on this.note  Upon Toonami's revival in May 2012, Adult Swim would also be relegated purely to comedy programming, with the action block once again taking the responsibility of all anime and mature animation.


Because of its adult orientations, and for Nielsen ratings purposes, Adult Swim is considered to be a "separate network" from Cartoon Network proper, similarly to Nickelodeon’s Nick @ Nite and the defunct NickMom on Nick Jr.note  The name "Adult Swim" comes from the public pool period in which child occupants must leave the pool, as the lifeguards go on break and the lack of supervision means only the adults can swim, analogous to the network switching to adult-oriented programming. This reference was explicitly invoked in its early years, when its Ad Bumpers and intro segment showed video clips from an adult swim pool.

Similarly to its daytime counterpart, many of its original programs have seen seen much critical praise (even the weirder ones). Adult Swim is well-known for bringing more exposure to mature anime series as well as rescuing other shows from death or complete obscurity.


Its website hosts an eclectic collection of original free-to-play games on its website (Robot Unicorn Attack included), and Adult Swim began publishing more substantial indie titles on Steam as "[adult swim] Games" in 2013. The programming block is also technically boasts a record company of its very own by way of Williams Street Records, which only releases free music as of 2015.

Typically, Sundays are rebroadcasts of FOX cartoons (such as Family Guy and Bob's Burgers) and premieres of original programs from Williams Street. Saturdays usually mix comedies with English-dubbed anime, the latter of which takes up the majority of the network's airtime on this night. Weekday evenings are reruns of comedies, both original or otherwise.

On March 4, 2019, Adult Swim, along with Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies, were transferred from Turner Broadcasting to Warner Bros. as part of a restructuring at corporate parent WarnerMedia.

Adult Swim plays - or has played - the following series:

    open/close all folders 

    Western Animation 
Animated originals that are on-going:

Animated originals cancelled or ended:

Original animated pilots and/or specials:

Animated imports/syndicated:

Note: Except for American Dad!, Bob's Burgers and Family Guy, all of these series were cancelled and discarded by their original host networks before syndication rights were picked up by Adult Swim (this was also the case for Family,Guy, but it has since been Uncanceled due partially to ratings for the reruns on Adult Swim). Adult Swim's expired rights to Futurama were picked up by Comedy Central, which led to the show's revival on that network. Home Movies was renewed as an Adult Swim original series for an additional three and a half seasons following its original cancellation.

    Live-Action TV 

    Pre-Toonami Anime 
Anime Shown as Part of the [adult swim] Action Block:

Anime Films Shown on the [adult swim] Action Block:

Anime Shown Only on [adult swim] Australia and New Zealand:

Anime Shown Only on [adult swim] UK and Ireland:

Current Shows:

Former Shows:


Toonami Immersion Events:

[adult swim] Specials

Series Shown Only on [adult swim] UK and Ireland:

Series Shown Only on [adult swim] Canada:

adult swim Website Games:

Console and PC games published by [adult swim]:

[adult swim] Web Originals

  • On Cinemanote 
  • Deckernote 
  • FishCenter Live (a daily livestream show from Adult Swim's offices, involving employees of Adult Swim taking calls from viewers, playing games and goofing around, with two fish tanks at the center of the action; edited versions consisting of highlights from that day's livestream have been aired as early-morning filler and weekly recaps go up on Adult Swim's YouTube channel)
  • Williams Street Swap Shop (another livestreaming call-in talk show, supposedly set in a remote Georgia cabin, where viewers can call in to potentially swap unwanted/unneeded items with each other)
  • Bloodfeast (yet another livestreaming call-in talk show where Adult Swim employees work on that day's crossword puzzle from the New York Times, with viewers calling in to help solve it)
  • The Cry of Mann (a special live call-in Twin Peaks-esque soap opera from Wham City Comedy about a family looking into the disappearance of Tank Mann, the head of their patriarch)
  • The Weather (a live call-in show by Wham City, featuring several comedic or surreal sketches)
  • Electronic Game Information (a Video-game centric live-show hosted by Wham City member Robby Rackleff, streamed online.)

Adult Swim is known for the unique timing of commercial breaks. Most American networks have 8 minutes of commercial breaks per half-hour block — one 1 or 2-minute break at the top of the half-hour, two 2 or 3-minute breaks during the show, and a final 1 or 2-minute break at the end of the half-hour. Adult Swim has only 2 breaks per half-hour. Still totaling 8 minutes, but there's one break in the middle of the half-hour, and one at the end. Viewers appreciate this for obvious reasons, and they can sometimes have up to 5 uninterrupted minutes of commercial time to leave the TV and do other things before the next show comes on. God knows what the advertisers think of that, but considering AS's key demographic is the advertising gold-mine of males from age 18-35, they still pony up the dollars. The only downside to the viewer would be a Commercial Break Cliffhanger in non-original programming is less effective because the show continues immediately after (unless, of course, that happens to be where the break actually hits). Incidentally, this is how all ad breaks work on UK and Japanese channels - quite fortunate given all the UK and Japanese programming. (Actually, given the almost total preponderance of Japanese programming in the very early lineup, this is quite possibly not incidental at all.)

Bizarrely (or not given their track record for severely cutting what content they do air), Cartoon Network in the UK has never had an Adult Swim slot. This may be due to the fact that the UK version is classified as a kids' channel under British broadcasting regulations and is forbidden from showing any adult content, even after the UK's 9PM watershed. Laddish lad channel Bravo did aired it instead, but that channel bit the dust in 2010 and took that slot with it. The slot ended up over on TCM2, occupying a much shorter 2 and a half hour slot only on Friday nights/Saturday mornings to go along with small selection of episodes that went on the website each week (although DVDs of the shows finally started being released in the UK in late 2008). Since then though, the block was discontinued and the home entertainment releases of Adult Swim shows have dried up. As of September 2015, Fox UK aired a 90 minute Adult Swim block on Thursday, with the shows repeated Saturday. It was also available on truTV on Monday and Friday nights in late 2016, marking the first time the block has been seen on a free-to-air channel in the UK, and some shows, including Rick and Morty, are now available on Netflix's UK branch. After a long stint in limbo, it was announced that the block would be returning to UK TV through Channel 4's sister channel E4 starting February 15th and select programming will be available on C4's on-demand service All 4.

In Australia and New Zealand, the local branch of Cartoon Network once had its own version of Adult Swim, including both comedy and anime, but the entire block was canceled at the end of 2007. The comedy series moved to The Comedy Channel (The Antipodean equivalent to Comedy Central) which still continues to air on a daily basis with consistent ratings, even though the block airs only on Saturdays from 12am-2am AEST and 6:30pm-7:30pm ASET. Many Adult Swim series, both comedy and anime, are available on DVD in the two countries, due to a licensing deal with Madman Entertainment. A few of the anime shows were picked up by the local Sci Fi Channel's Animax block.

Latin America used to have Adult Swim via Cartoon Network and later I.Sat, due to negative reviews from the parents. It mostly showed Adult Swim original cartoons (with a great deal of the bumps explicitly stating they would never show anime even though they did later on). Unfortunately, it ran only Friday through Sunday at very late hours, and apparently people didn't get most of the jokes, so it was canceled not long after it debuted. It was brought back first in Brazil on TBS on Novmber 3, 2014, and in the remainder of the region on I.Sat on April 3, 2015.

In Canada, Adult Swim programming has historically aired on Teletoon's own late-night block, Teletoon at Night/The Detour. A domestic version was launched in 2012 as a late-night block on the Canadian version of Cartoon Network; a sibling to Teletoon. The block is composed of older originals, as well as other acquired shows (even Samurai Jack!). Most of Adult Swim's shows have been acquired by other networks note  Perhaps because of this, the block seldom airs newer original shows from Adult Swim proper. To compensate, Turner launched an SVOD app which allows Canadians to watch new episodes and past seasons of original shows. However, again due to the existing program rights, several shows weren't available. After the discontinuation of the app in November of 2018, and restructuring at parent company Corus Entertainment, both Teletoon at Night and the Canadian Adult Swim block would be discontinued in March 2019, followed by the launch of a 24-hour Adult Swim channel, the first of its kind, in April 2019.

Tropes exhibited by [adult swim] include:

  • Ad Bumpers: Adult Swim is quite famous for these. You can see an entire archive of these bumps here.
  • All Adult Animation Is South Park: Adult Swim and much of its content is accused of advocating this. Furthermore, the block's anime and action cartoons, the most notable aversions, are once again under the Toonami brand.
  • all lowercase letters: Adult Swim's branding of course, stylized as [adult swim].
  • Animation Age Ghetto: invokedThe Nielsen ratings are often considered to be an example of this. While this is subverted for their comedy titles, it's played straight for most of their anime titles. This is also played straight with many of their home videos, especially the earlier releases, as they are still edited just like their TV versions.
  • April Fools' Day: Adult Swim has a running tradition of messing with their programs on April 1st, both the night of and the following day. Examples being mustaches drawn on characters, putting fart noises in the shows, running a marathon of Perfect Hair Forever as dated VHS with badly done subbing, playing The Room (which is what arguably granted the movie more infamy as it now had a wider audience) or even bringing back past Williams Street blocks such as Toonami for the night. One year, they dug up reruns of Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos.
  • Artifact Title:
    • Adult Swim is named as such as it came from the analogy of the network switching to adult-oriented programming by showing Ad Bumpers consisting of a public pool period where the children have to get out and let the adults swim. This analogy hasn't been used since 2003, when these bumpers were replaced with the "white text on black" style bumpers seen ever since, and the "swim" part isn't really recognized much anymore.
    • Contributing to Cartoon Network's controversial decision of adding live action shows to the channel, Adult Swim has also controversially added a number of live action shows to their lineup. While the live-action Adult Swim shows have better critical reception than their regular Cartoon Network counterparts, these works have unsurprisingly not been well-received by a good portion of the fanbase, especially if you ask fans of the anime or the classic animated comedies.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Adult Swim wished for the third season of Moral Orel to be darker than either of the previous two - and instantly regretted it. The series was then cancelled.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • Adult Swim has often made fun of their own strange programming decisions at times. They also have had plenty of things to say about Cartoon Network's executive decisions, to say the least.
    • From a segment on Robot Chicken:
    "Stupid Adult Swim only plays it [Inuyasha] on Saturdays now."
    "And they can watch TV but only a half an hour, and only cartoons, so that means no Cartoon Network."
  • Cassette Futurism: This Gold Commercial.
  • Channel Hop: An unusual temporary example: fellow Turner network TNT aired a special block of programming from AS after the 2003 NBA All-Star Game hosted by Carl and Brak, dubbed as Cartoon Network's Adult Swim All-Star Extravaganza.
  • Colon Cancer: At least one program uses multiple colons in the name of the show, a parody Police Procedural series titled "NTSF:SD:SUV::" which stands for "National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle: :".
  • Commercial Pop-Up:
    • During the "world premiere" of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force film, the movie was aired normally for the first 7 minutes, and then displayed without sound in a tiny box in the corner of the screen, and episodes of Family Guy and Futurama aired while the movie ran (in its entirety) in the corner. During this, humongous pop-up ads for the movie with loud sound effects also appeared from time to time.
    • One episode of Frisky Dingo had a message on the screen for 15 seconds at the start that said "This is where the network puts that mammoth bug." Then, "Enjoy the show." Biting-the-Hand Humor doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • Content Warnings: "Just in case that last disclaimer wasn't enough, this episode contains extreme violence. We would rather run this than cut the violence from the episode because we are American Cowboys." —Adult Swim before really bloody anime episodes; as stated, it follows a more traditional content warning advising that Adult Swim is not for viewers under 18...err 14.
  • Foreshadowing: Adult Swim once aired a "Where Are They Now" style bump, with the last one featuring Brak, Zorak, and Moltar planning a revival of Cartoon Planet. Cartoon Planet would return on March 31, 2012.
  • Minimalism: In contrast to the more kinetic, bombastic Cartoon Network bumpers, the [adult swim] bumps are much more subdued, ranging from white text on a black background to a still image with soft electronic music playing in the background. This serves a dual purpose of keeping costs down while better suiting the late-night ambience (for stoners, viewers on the verge of falling asleep; etc.).
  • Network Decay: Listed in Slipped. Contributing their part to Cartoon Network's decay (other than the Boston Bomb Scare), Adult Swim's lineup has aired both original and rerun live-action shows, phased out of a number of animated shows, and now has an increasing over-reliance on FOX acquisitions for viewership and filling timeslots. Also mirroring main CN's decision of ending Toonami, the biggest victims of the decay has been the anime lineup, which has since been relegated exclusively to the Saturday Night-Sunday Morning timeslots. Adult Swim has, however, called Cartoon Network's decay out and even lampshaded their own strange programming choices at times, so they're at least aware of this. Not to mention due to the same constant schedule switching that has screwed over many of its titles, what's decaying one week can be on the upswing the next.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: NTSF:SD:SUV makes it very obvious, although it's really the editing that gives it away, not bad continuity. Such as cutting to a sudden, awkward, far angle shot just for Trent to perform an entire spin kick (with his hair covering his face, no less).
  • Our Product Sucks: Quite a few of the Adult Swim bumpers are self-deprecating, often featuring flames and trolls from the message boards. When the network played Saved by the Bell, the network changed its logo to "[crappy 1980's live action tv show network]", after a message board user suggested it.
  • Overly Long Gag: A staple of Adult Swim shows. In the commentary of a The Venture Bros. episode, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer point out the fact that their show, unlike the rest of Adult Swim, rarely used the device.
  • Packaged as Other Medium: The Western Animation folder on this trope's page could just be renamed the [adult swim] folder as all the examples are [as] programs. It's even lampshaded in the examples themselves.
  • Pun: [all times and music eastern]
  • Quarter Hour Short: Like CN, [as] original programming always run 11 minutes per episode, although a few such as Rick and Morty and season 5 of Samurai Jack use the 22-minute mark.
  • Recycled In Space: It's like Nick @ Nite ON CARTOON NETWORK!
  • Running Gag:
    • There are a series of bumps calling attention to some shortcoming or ridiculous doing of the United States, followed by USA showing up with a synthesized voice reciting the letters.
    • Flordia: Where Bad Things Go To Happen.
    • They point out an Epic Fail with a synthesized "Fail".
  • Speech-Centric Work: Their original series tend to emphasize dialogue, typically as a result of their limited budgets.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Turner networks have a history of doing weird things late at night- see TBS' 17 Update Early in the Morningnote  and Tushnote , and TNT's MonsterVision and 100% Weird; Adult Swim proudly carries on the weird, homegrown feel of those shows (and, indeed, carries on the chaotic, low-budget, free for all feel that WTBS had during its' formative years).
  • Stylistic Suck: Most of the animated shows are known for having intentionally crude designs for the sake of comedy, but also partially to keep the budgets down. The better-looking shows will still be this in the form of Affectionate Parody towards cheesy '80s and '90s programs.
  • Subverted Kids Show: Adult Swim itself is this for Cartoon Network in general. A number of programs also qualify such as, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Sealab 2021, Moral Orel, Robot Chicken, and G.I. Joe: Resolute.
  • Surreal Horror: Most of the live-action shows post-Tim & Eric, ranging from uncomfortable, confusing and, more recently, legitimate horrifying.
  • Surreal Humor: invoked Most Adult Swim original programs exhibit this in varying degrees, from "wacky" to "What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?".
  • Take That!: Adult Swim just loves to do this at times with their Ad Bumpers. On occasions, Adult Swim tends to lampshade this.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "Attention Toonami Faithful: We heard you. On 05.26.12 #ToonamisBackBitches"
  • Timeshift Channel: With the exception of Saturdays, the "DVR Theater" and the occasional nights of programming decided by contest winners, Adult Swim's second half is usually a repeat of its first half. A thing to note is that considering that Cartoon Network has separate East and West Coast feeds, it's sometimes possible to watch something four times in a night if one so wishes to, if one has DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse or Dish Network, or if your cable company has access to the live feeds of the channel on the website.
  • Translation Train Wreck: The 2007 Adult Swim April Fool's Day gag involved 'bootleg' versions of several Adult Swim shows.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: One fan suggested that they pit Brock Samson vs. Black Dynamite and see who wins. Adult Swim ran with it, telling fans to vote on Twitter, and the results would be posted the following week. There was no decisive winner. The final tally was 50/50, and a massive flame-war erupted from both fandoms. Adult Swim followed up with the next match-up: Stewie Griffin vs. Early Cuyler. They also said that what they really want to see is the Brock Samson and Black Dynamite fandoms to fight each other.
    "Because some y'all crazy bitches!"
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: invoked In 2007, Adult Swim launched a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie featuring battery powered LED placards resembling the Mooninite characters being placed in numerous places around the U.S. However, in Boston, police officials mistakenly thought that the LEDs were bombs, and treated the whole event as such. This event would turn out to be known as the Boston Bomb Scare, which lead to legal implications being placed on Turner Broadcasting and their contractors, the internet to make mock "Never Forget" memes, and forced then current Cartoon Network head Jim Samples to step down. It wouldn’t be long after until fans began to realize that Adult Swim, scratch that, Cartoon Network in general would not be the same since the incident. Not because of any legal incidents, but because Samples' replacement, Stuart Snyder, would become the instigator of the channel’s infamous Dork Age with the influx of live-action sitcoms and reality shows on the channel.

[adult swim]


Video Example(s):


Toonami's Return

[adult swim]'s April Fools' prank initially appears to be an airing of The Room like they did for the past three years...

Then we cut to the Absolution, where TOM is watching a promo for The Room. Cue one of the greatest revivals in television history.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhamLine

Media sources:

Main / WhamLine